This is Part 3 of All About Jewelry Wire – an in depth look at all the important factors to consider when choosing jewelry wire for your projects. Earlier this week we covered wire gauge measuring systems and wire hardness, and today we’re going to take a look at wire shapes what they mean for making jewelry!
If you’ve experienced feeling confused while shopping for jewelry wire and seeing something like this:
…then this series is really going to help! Right now we’re going to get to the ‘half round’ part of that confusing sentence. For the other parts, you’ll find links above and at the bottom of this post to guide you through the rest of the series.
Wire shapes is probably the easiest of the properties of wire to understand. This simply refers to the shape of the cross section (the cut end) of the wire.
The most common shapes for jewelry wire are round, half-round, square, and twisted. All of these shapes are readily available from most large jewelry suppliers in a range of sizes and materials.
Round wire is the most commonly used wire shape, and can be used for just about every wire wrapping and wire forming application. If a shape isn’t specified in a pattern or in a jewelry supply shop, the wire is most likely round.
Half-round wire has one flat side and is commonly used for making ring shanks (larger sizes) and as binding wire (smaller sizes) when wrapping bundles of wire.
Square wire has four flat sides and can be used for most of the things that round wire is used for – making earwires, spirals, wire wrapping, etc. It is also very practical as bundling wire because several pieces of square wire will sit nicely side by side and will stay in place as they are bundled together, as shown above. This technique is possible with round wire but is much more difficult as the wires tend to slip past each other instead of staying nicely aligned.
I love the way using square wire gives a whole new look to simple forms! It has a very modern, clean look to it that certainly lends itself well to certain kinds of jewelry.
Something to consider when working with square wire is that if you want to maintain the straight edges of the wire, you have to pay attention to which plane you are working on or you may experience an unwanted twist in your wire.
A single piece of round wire can be twisted without showing any discrepancy. This is not true of square wire. However, this characteristic of square wire can be used intentionally to create lovely design accents.
You can also purchase ready-made twisted square wire.
Twisted wire is formed by twisting two or more round wires together and can also be used for most things round and square wire are used for. Twisted wire makes beautifully textured earwires and jump rings, and adds lovely texture to wire wrapped designs. It works well in bundles and also holds oxidation nicely for an antiqued look.
The pendant below was made by bundling twisted wire. See the tutorial here.
Some harder to find specialty wire shapes may include rectangular wire and double half-round, which would be used the same way as square and half-round wire, respectively.
Well that’s it for jewelry wire shape options! I hope you found this informative and that you have a better idea of ways to use different shapes of wire in your jewelry designs. If you’d like to read more about wire gauges and wire hardness, follow the links below!